The Body Shop International Plc., commonly known as The Body Shop, is a British multinational cosmetic company that was founded in 1976 (The Body Shop 2015). The company started out with only 25 products but today they have a range of up to 1200 different products being sold in more than 2500 stores across the world (The Body Shop 2015). Having been founded in England by Dame Anita Roddick, the company has grown and is present today in more than 60 countries. By 1990, the company had already ventured in 39 countries and was doing impressively well on the international market (The Body Shop 2015). This may explain why L’Oreal, another successful cosmetic company, decided to buy into Body Shop at a cost of 623 million in 2006 (L’Oreal Group 2006). The company was already wildly successful beyond the market anticipation and it was evident that they were on the right path for taking over the global cosmetic industry. The company sells both make up and general self care products, like fragrances and body lotions, among other things. In order to appreciate this company’s growth, it is important to consider their market situation in detail, as it will be done in this paper.
The Marketing Concept and Marketing Mix
The main idea behind a marketing concept is to create, communicate and deliver value, meaning that marketing starts with the conception of an idea and all of these activities point to creating value or ensuring customer satisfaction (Jobber & Fahy 2012). Therefore, the marketing concept that each organization needs to consider must be pegged on target market, the needs of the customers, integrated marketing and their overall profitability (Jobber & Fahy 2012).
In order to achieve the set goals and objectives, organizations need to select a target market to focus on. This implies conducting a study of the market and determining which section of the population they aim to appeal to. Companies that fail to identify a target market are often unable to achieve customer satisfaction, since they fail to narrow down the needs of the specific group of customers. In The Body Shop, the target market comprises of young women aged between 18 and 30 years, with an average income and, thus, the ability to afford high end cosmetics and self care products (L’Oreal Group 2006). This allows the company to produce high quality products and put relatively high prices without risking their market potential (Blythe 2008). The company has also been able to identify the needs of their customers, which, in this case, is mainly to look good without compromising the environment status.
Therefore, this explains why the company has been very vocal about their eco-friendliness, while continuing to produce impressive cosmetic products for women in the first world countries. Customer needs drive the organization by providing a problem that the company at hand can solve, and without identifying this problem the company cannot solve it. Integrated marketing is, on the other hand, about coordinating the company’s activities in order to meet needs and expectations of the organization (Palmer 2009). It must also be noted and appreciated that as a business organization, the company needs to realize its profits (Cravens & Piercy 2012). While the goal of the marketing department is to provide value to the company’s customers, the overall objective of any private business is to make significant profits in order to add value for their stakeholders, while also being able to sustain their operations for continuity.
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The company has three major competitors in most of their markets, namely Sephora USA, Bath and Body works and Boots. These three companies have so far been able to remain close behind Body Shop in terms of their market shares and it can be noted that they are also working hard to retain their customers. Each of these competitors has a strong backing in their respective markets, although none of them has the Body Shop brand name.
The customers here are mostly young women between 18 and 30 years, as established, and thus they have varied needs in terms of cosmetics and self care practices. Some of the customers are still trying to find their personalities, while others are limiting their practices based on their careers or even perceived image. This means that, in most cases, the company has to offer tips and advice, in order to ensure effective use of the products (Fill 2009).
The company uses both franchised Body Shop outlets and other high end vendors across the globe to sell their products. The aim here is to make it as accessible as possible and, in most cases, the distributors have to agree to the company’s terms and conditions, especially regarding pricing and quality, as well as customer service (Fill 2009). This is categorically why most of the distributors are actually owned by the organization.
As most of the other international companies, The Body Shop conducts Fair Trade and this is how they source for their raw materials. It follows that the company has numerous suppliers and an effective supply chain system to manage them. They manage to ensure that they are always the very best in terms of quality within the cosmetics industry. These suppliers are more like business partners who operate independently and yet maintain open communications with the organization for efficient business processes.
The company has four strengths working for them at the moment. First, the Body Shop is a really strong brand with an impressive following amongst the potential customers. This means that The Body Shop is well represented in the market already and does not really need to go about establishing themselves again. They have also specialized in niche marketing, where all their marketing is specific and, in most cases, effective. With a specific range of products, the company is able to market a variety of the products together. It can also be appreciated that at the Body Shop, one is likely to experience some of the most impressive store designs aimed at offering the right kind of ambience for the customers. Also, the company has a wide range of high quality products that are also effective.
Amongst their weaknesses is their inability to speed up the checkout process in most of their stores. With such a high customer base, the company is often unable to ensure efficiency with regards to checking out, as some of the customers end up having to wait in line for their turn to check out. This simply slows down the business and discourages the clients from visiting the store again. More importantly, it would be advisable if the company limitsits advertising costs significantly for numerous to curb overheads (Palmer 2009).
An obvious opportunity for Body Shop at the moment would be the Male grooming products. The past few years have seen the rise of a metro-sexual male who needs to look and feel good. As such, the market is considerably ready for beauty products that are made specifically for men. The company also has a really effective product development team who can continue to lead the cosmetic industry with new innovations and designs for their clients. Regarding online market, the company could benefit significantly from capitalizing on their online stores, rather than opening new ones.
The only significant threat here would be the availability of raw materials for their innovative productions. The company is often limited in quantity and, in some cases, even quality and without the required accuracies on these two fronts, it is likely that the company will not sustain its position in the market (Kotler& Armstrong 2010). The company also has to deal with a significant amount of competition in all of their markets from both local and international brands.
Having established the marketing concepts that must be considered, it is also important to look at justifications for the applicable marketing theory which, in this case, is the marketing mix. A marketing mix is a strategic tool that helps the company to chart out a clear way for their marketing practices towards the set goals and objectives (Fill 2009). In this case, The Body Shop is already an international cosmetics company with an impressive net value. This means that the company is quite effective in terms of their marketing mix. The company can be considered as a market-oriented organization and, thus, they use the 4Ps of marketing as discussed below.
The products on offer are mainly related to beauty and self care. The company has been able to expand their range of products to cater to all of their clients, thus consolidating the brand as the ultimate solution to beauty and self care needs. While they started out with a handful of products, the company currently has more than 1000 different products, implying that they are able to satisfy a wide variety of customer needs in as far as beauty and self care is concerned (The Body Shop 2015). The products are also of a really high quality to impress the customers, while also being effective in their role as beauty products. The company is also notably unisex, in that while they especially target the young female customers, they also have products meant for male customers. This means that they are inclusive when it comes to their product range.
The products in this company are mostly priced between 2 and 30 (L’Oreal Group 2006). This means that while it may be pricey for a number of the consumers, there is a larger portion of the market that would comfortably afford them. This pricing concept is aimed at popularizing the product amongst a target market that is yet to be established financially. Most women between 18 and 30 are either in school, starting their careers or looking to start a business (L’Oreal Group 2006). This means that, while they need to look impressive at this point in their lives, they also have to watch their spending. The set price is mostly for market positioning, where the company seeks to be affordable and yet classy (Cravens & Piercy 2012).
The company’s place aspect on the marketing mix includes availing the products in all the main street shops in the cities within which they operate. This implies not just franchising but also seeking vendors who appreciate quality of the products and value of the Body Shop brand name (Kotler& Armstrong 2010). The company also sells these products online in order to reach out to a wider and somewhat busier customer base. They also have a mobile application through which the customers can easily check out the available products and make their order.
The company has been using YouTube as a main promotional platform, with numerous videos popularizing the brand and showing young women how to make the most of their youthful beauty with limited cosmetics and self care. The company also engages in poster advertising, especially for their new products, and they offer discounts of up to 30%, depending on the occasion (L’Oreal Group 2006). It can also be appreciated that they have a loyalty card, which entitles the customers to offers.
Consumer Behavior Theories
The target market comprises of really young women with social pressures on their appearance. As such, the applicable consumer behavior theory would be a combination of the exposure theories and the social status theory (Brassington & Pettitt 2006). The consumers in the case are able to make decisions regarding Body Shop products, owing to the significant market communications that is reaching them regarding the Body Shop brand. They are also convinced because they see the brand as a status symbol, and it enables them to be confident amongst their peers. This is why the company has been vocal in their advertisements and PR activities, as they seek to capitalize on the strong brand name and need for physical gratification amongst their target customers. The customers in this case were also very conscious about the environment, thus being more likely to pay attention to a company that is eco-friendly in their operations.
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Application of Marketing Research
A market research is often a blueprint that an organization is expected to use in order to find their way seamlessly around their specific market. This means that the research will enable any given organization to offer their customers the exact products that they need, at the exact places that they find readily accessible and at the right price (Kotler & Armstrong 2010). It also enables the organization to know which platforms to use to communicate with their audiences effectively. In Body Shop’s case, a marketing research would allow them to not only understand the potential consumers for their male grooming products, but also to find out the exact kind of products that they should create and sell in order to meet the needs of potential male customers. Basically, the importance of a marketing research is that it offers a detailed guidance that the company can use in their marketing approach. This means that, with an accurate marketing research, the company should be able to do all the right things and extensively increase their market share (Pickton & Broderick 2005).
Conclusions and Recommendations
Body Shop has managed to be a very successful company in an industry that is often considered limited, owing to the gender specific nature and the fact that for so many years, cosmetics were considered luxury by most people. With their experience in the market at the moment, the company is able to attract and retain a good percentage of the market with their impressive marketing concepts that include young women aged between 18 and 30 as a target market, a comprehensive understanding of the needs of their customers through a marketing research, the use of integrated marketing to ensure that all their efforts are aimed at the same goals and objectives with regards to marketing, and remaining profitable for sustainability, seeing as it is a business organization. For a better future in cosmetics industry, the company should consider taking up a considerable portion of the male grooming industry. They are already selling male self care products but most of these are neither promoted effectively nor manufactured for a large market. It is important for the company to appreciate that modern men are highly adopted into a society, where appearances make a significant impact and must thus be paid attention to. The company can also consider using self checkout machines in order to speed up the checkout process and avoid long queues that have been discouraging their customers from visiting their stores.
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